Societe Generale stays in the black despite profits blow from US and French tax changes

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The French bank's trading desk performed better than some peers (Source: Getty)

Profits at Societe Generale fell in the fourth quarter after a big tax hit from US and French changes, but the French lender nevertheless surprised analysts as they remained in the black.

Net income at the bank fell to €69m (£61m) in the fourth quarter of 2017, the bank announced today. That was a big fall from the €390m recorded last year, but far better than the loss expected by analysts.

US tax changes dented profits by €253m, while the French effect was €163m.

Read more: SocGen profits fall as it books in €300m Libyan legal costs

The bank's global markets unit performed better than many international rivals, with the €5.7bn income falling only 4.3 per cent during 2017. Fixed income, commodities and currencies revenues fell by 6.5 per cent in the quarter, compared to double-digit drops seen by most investment banks which have reported so far amid low volatility for trading desks.

However, operating expenses rose by 3.1 per cent year-on-year in the quarter. At the end of last year Soc Gen announced it will close 15 per cent of its branches in a bit to slash costs and move wholeheartedly towards digital banking. It has already cut thousands of jobs from its large retail network.

Read more: Societe Generale income inches down in 2016, but retail banking booms

Frederic Oudea, Soc Gen's chief executive, said last year was "another important and positive milestone in the group’s transformation" and said he was "starting 2018 with confidence" amid an economy that is becoming "more favourable".

He added: "In addition to the impacts of a number of exceptional items, the 2017 financial results reflect the healthy commercial momentum of all our businesses, the disciplined management of our costs and risks and the improvement in our underlying profitability."

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